Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818) often catches readers off guard. Centuries of stage and screen adaptations have resulted in a game of interpretative broken telephone that distances us from the original narrative’s poignant reflections on human nature. Our eighteenth reader studied the novel as a high school student and as an undergraduate. We sat down to discuss our interpretations of Shelley’s most famous work, the deeper questions posed by the narrative, the merits of close reading, and the important role of book clubs in life-long learning.
“Reading it for the first time when I was sixteen…being so surprised that a woman had written the story… ‘Oh, a woman wrote the story of this crazy scientist who creates a monster out of dead flesh?’ It is so sci-fi and it just seemed that a ‘proper lady’ wouldn’t really be thinking of those things let alone writing a story about them…Always thinking that the monster was called Frankenstein…That was another surprise…He teaches himself how to read. He seemed so human, and so full of compassion.”
The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson
Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill